Esporão Quinta dos Murças Minas, Douro, Portugal 2016

Medium purple color; blackberry, on the nose; cherry, blackberry, fleshy plums, earth, meat, herbs on the palate.

Esporão Quinta dos Murças Minas, Douro, Portugal 2016

Dry; firm tannins; greatly benefits from decanting. Decanting brings out the vivid fruits and allows the acidity to deliver balance. Blend of mostly touriga franca and touriga nacional, with some tinta francisca, tinta roriz, and tinto cão. Aged in concrete vats and used French oak, so oak is only a background note; 13.5% ABV.

Medium body; bold, smooth, easy drinker after decanting. This comes from a great maker—Esporão—in the Douro region of Portugal. The region is in northeastern Portugal and defined by the Douro River. It is most famous for producing port—and grapes used in this table wine effort are the same grapes used in making Port. The grapes are grown in relatively mountainous east, then carried down river to the city of Porto, where the wine is made.

Some of the grapes typically used to make wine also make table wines, such as in this case. In fact, as a result of climate change, touriga nacional vineyards now appear in Bordeaux and Texas because they are hardy and tolerate heat and higher altitudes (where thicker skins protect from UV rays). The Portuguese grapes replace or supplement cabernet sauvignon, which needs a more moderate and longer growth cycle.

Esporão vineyards and Douro River

The “Minas” designation refers to south-facing parcels located between 360 and 1,000 feet in altitude. The parcels contain five “minas”—mines—but the excavations appear to include freshwater springs that help cool the area.

Esporão produces grapes, wines, olive oil, and tourism. The estate, on the right bank of the Douro, offers beautiful views of the river and vineyards. Tourists can participate in the daily working of the estate, enjoy wine and olive oil tastings, experience picnics and hiking trails. Their website notes guides are fluent in English, French, and Spanish. Visit the Esporão website for a compelling look at who they are and the mission and values.

Esporão Quinta dos Murças Minas, Douro, Portugal 2016 is a terrific value-for-price play. After decanting, it is lovely in the mouth, rich, full, vivid fruits. Demonstrates the outstanding values available in Portuguese wines. Pair with red meat; steaks and grilled meats; roast beef; also with cod and its creamy texture—there is recipe for this on the Esporão website; red-sauce dishes. $16-24

Esporão website

Esporão Quinta dos Murças winery—old
Esporão Quinta dos Murças winery—restored
Esporão vineyard
Esporão tower and vineyards